Cardiac Calcium Scoring
James Ganem, MD, is a cardiologist at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.
Question: Why would I need cardiac calcium scoring?
Answer: This test is used to check for heart disease in an early age and determine how severe it is. Cardiac calcium scoring uses a CT scan to check for calcium that may have built up in your arteries. This buildup is not normal and can lead to a heart attack. The coronary arteries give blood to the heart, and calcium in the arteries is a sign of coronary artery disease.
Cardiac calcium scoring is done to:
- Find out if you have coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Find out how the severity of your heart disease
- Predict if you will get CAD symptoms
Physical exams and other tests can give enough information about your heart, so cardiac calcium scoring is not done very often. But if your risk factors determine you are at a medium risk for CAD (a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years), your doctor may find out more information for your risk of CAD based on cardiac calcium scoring. You can have no symptoms of heart disease but still be at a medium risk.
You may not have the test or it may not be beneficial if: you have a fast heart rate, smoke, or drink a lot of caffeine.
Reviewed August 2010